3 1/2 Stars, Jennifer Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence

Secret to Success

My husband is afraid of spiders, scream like a little girl afraid. I’m the designated spider killer in our house, and that’s completely okay with me, because the things that my husband does for me far outweigh my ability to kill spiders for him. There is a scene in Jennifer Moore‘s The Shipbuilder’s Wife where Lydia and Jacob have a conversation I swear I’ve had a million times with my husband and it seriously made me so happy. Lydia concludes the conversation with, “If you hold me when I have a frightening dream, I will smash spiders for you.” And I thought, that right there is the secret to success in a marriage.

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“The day of her parents’ garden party dawns bright as Lydia Prescott eagerly anticipates a marriage proposal from a handsome and wealthy plantation owner. The lovely debutante plans to steal a moment away with her beau, but her plans go terribly awry. Instead of her intended, she is joined by a stranger the largest man she’s ever laid eyes on. And it is clear Jacob Steele is there for reasons far more sober than the party. With British raids erupting all around them, it is his job to reassure plantation owners of their safety. In reality, however, Jacob is an espionage agent, and the truth is dire: America is on the verge of invasion by the British.

Blissfully unaware of the danger surrounding her, Lydia basks in the glow of her recent engagement. But her joy is short-lived—a surprise British attack results in a devastating wound, and her plans for the future are shattered. Lost in her devastation, Lydia could never dream that Jacob, that giant of a man she met so briefly, would prove to be her saving grace. And with a war raging around them, she may be called upon to save him too.”

Jennifer Moore always creates compelling characters with relatable struggles to overcome. Giving good insight into her characters through relevant character introspection so we feel like we’re right there along with them.

Her books are always well researched, but she often makes plot jumps that are hard for me to follow. Jacob marrying Lydia was one of those. It seemed an out of the blue and illogical step. But I love how she used that later in the story for him to have that introspection she’s so good at about why he really married her in the first place.

I also had a hard time following the timeline at times, but found myself really invested in the characters, so much so that I really hope all of her hints about Alden’s mysterious experiences mean we’ll get to have a book about him down the road.

See our Review of Lydia’s brother Emmett’s book in “My Dearest Enemy” here.

Four Stars, Jennifer Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence

Sides

I’ve been trying to teach my kids that there are multiple sides to every conflict. Every time they come running to me ready to tattle, “Sister/Brother…” I stop them there, “I don’t want to know what they did, what did you do?” Every single time the next sentence goes something like this, “Well I…but…” So often we don’t see the other person’s point of view or our own culpability.

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Struggling alone on the family farm, Abigail Tidwell knows exactly who to blame for her hardships: the Americans. If it weren’t for their part in the war, her father and brothers would be home rather than fighting abroad. But no amount of antipathy could have prepared her for the shocking sight of a wounded American soldier on her property, a man in dire need of her help. Grudgingly, Abigail tends to the soldier’s injuries and anticipates the satisfaction of turning him over to the authorities once he is healed. But fate has other plans. Captain Emmett Prescott remembers little of the ambush on his men by a group of Shawnee Indians and even less about how he arrived in the unfamiliar barn.

After being nursed back to health by beautiful, if reluctant, Abigail, Emmett would do anything to save the men he left behind—including forcibly enlisting Abigail’s help. Soon, Abigail finds herself caught between two countries at war. And as her attraction for Emmett grows, her conflicted heart engages in its own silent battle. But when she is accused of treason for her actions, her survival rests in the hands of the very man she once considered her enemy.

This novel was not only a beautiful blend of fact and fiction, but also a good reflection of the feelings on both sides of the conflict.

The author used clever ways of transitioning between chapters and topics. She was able to balance between the heavy, the chemistry and the light making the story all those things, yet not too much.

Near the end when Abigail and Emmett separate I was unclear about the cause of the split. The author did a great job of showing the respective characters inner thoughts, but they never really expressed them to each other. I was left feeling odd about the whole exchange and confused on why they hadn’t actually communicated with each other. When they said essentially, I’m staying and you’re leaving and there’s no middle ground, it was disconcerting.

I appreciated the conversation between Emmett and his sister that cleared up his lack of understanding of her being needed and wanted. It gave a good resolution to the characters she’d created, but I feel like the conflict could have still been there and the split still happened but with a little more communication to not leave the reader confused and at odds with the story.

The rest of romance and the conflict the war created was just the right about of sweetness and adventure.

See our review of Emmett’s sister Lydia’s book “The Shipbuilder’s Wife” here.